Goshen and Monroe-Woodbury students take on Empire Girls State

Brockport. After being recommended by their schools and American Legions, local students were selected to attend Empire Girls State, a weeklong workshop “designed to develop in the young citizen a working knowledge of the structure of government and to impress upon them the fact that their government is just what they make it,” according to the organization’s website.

| 03 Aug 2022 | 11:47

The 2022 Empire Girls State program was held at SUNY Brockport from July 3 - 9. To become eligible to attend, girls from across New York State had to be first recommended by their school, then sponsored by their local American Legion Post after an interview process. The Goshen American Legion Post #377 selected Jolina Dong, while the Monroe American Legion Post #488 selected Jenna Rowen-Delson and Audrey Whitefield.

Each Empire Girls State attendee is a citizen in a mythical 51st state. At the beginning of the week, attendees are assigned to a county and party (nationalist or federalist). Each county was named after a famous woman, including: Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Susan B Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Sally Ride.

Throughout the first few days of the workshop, each county’s citizens met frequently to elect officials, such as County Executive, County Comptroller, District Attorney, County Judge, County Sheriff and Public Defender. Each citizen also placed in a committee, such as agriculture, campaign, criminal justice, education, environmental conservation, health, homeland security, or technology. They were given tasks such as creating bills to fix various issues within the state.

Towards the end of the week, the counties gathered and split into two parties to nominate a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller and Attorney General. After a town hall debate and speeches, citizens participated in a real-world stimulated election process to vote for their candidate.

Throughout the week, citizens also learned Americanism skills, such as how to fold, raise and lower an American flag, create a poppy, and participate in a POW/MIA ceremony. The program also incorporated recreation throughout the workshop, celebrating the Fourth of July, creating county cheers and banners, and the formal State of the State Ceremony, where citizens were encouraged to dress formally and families were invited to attend.